Seattle Raptor advocate wants to expand rat population control program after pilot success

A rodent control program that used non-lethal means to reduce the rat population at a future construction site in Queen Anne has been so successful that organizers are set to expand it to other areas.

Ever since a snowy owl fan named Yuki showed up at Queen Anne in the fall of 2020, Queen Anne and Raptors wildlife activist Tanea Stephens is the Seattle Solution Chapter Director, has tried to educate the people in Queen Anne and other neighborhoods about the dangers of using poison-bait traps to reduce rodent numbers around residences and businesses or developments.

In early 2021, Stephens approached Maria Barrientos, director of BarrientosRyan, the developer of the future 21Boston construction project, and asked her to consider participating in a pilot program, Poison Free by 2023, using non-lethal means to reduce the rodent population as required by the city rather than traditional means.

Instead of hiring a pest control company to set poison-bait traps on the future development, Barrientos contracted Parker Eco Pest Control of Seattle to administer a birth control solution in different areas of the site. Rat population numbers were then monitored by scientists from the FYXX Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping cities and groups develop safe and effective population strategies for invasive or overcrowded mammalian species. .

The contraceptive solution used by Parker Eco Pest Control does not kill rats, but renders them sterile. Additionally, the contraceptive is non-toxic to animals that come across it and does not kill animals that normally eat rats, such as the snowy owl.

Stephens said in May that after eight months, scientists from the fertility monitoring expert team reported a 91% reduction in the rat population around the future construction site.

“I just feel like it’s a win-win situation for wildlife and people,” Stephens said.

Not only is it better for the environment and animals in the food chain, Stephens said, the fertility control solution is more effective than using traditional blood-thinning rodenticides, which stop working after a while because rats stop visiting poison bait stations and rat counts start. to increase again. Most rats live between 8 and 12 months and are fertile at 2 years. They average four to seven litters, with nine to 12 young per litter, per year. That equates to 15,000 offspring from a breeding rat per year, Stephens said.

“So that’s what we call rat math, and that’s why it doesn’t work,” Stephens said of the poison bait stations. “It’s actually impossible to manage these rats when they stop using the bait stations.”

Stephens said that with the success of the pilot program, she is ready to move on to the next phase of the project: bringing the idea to other businesses and neighborhoods.

To ensure the fertility program can be profitable for pest control companies, Stephens said Parker Eco Pest Control has formulated a business model to make it cost effective to use in their daily operations that other pest control companies can also follow.

“Our hope is to inspire and motivate these people to change their role models as well,” Stephens said.

With that in place, Stephens wants to take the idea of ​​the birth control program to other Queen Anne businesses and then to other Seattle neighborhoods. She hopes people will volunteer to share the program with others as well.

“For birth control in rats to be effective, everyone has to be involved,” Stephens said.

Additionally, the more businesses and homeowners participate in their neighborhood, the less they will pay for the program. For example, Stephens said if every business owner from West Galer to McGraw on Queen Anne Avenue North participated, it would cost them $18 per month for the rat reduction program.

“I honestly don’t see why anyone who thinks they have a rat problem wouldn’t want to use it,” Stephens said. “It’s really a no-brainer situation.”

For more information about the program or to learn more about expanding the program to other neighborhoods, email Stephens at [email protected]